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Method and system for weighted fair queuing
8711871 Method and system for weighted fair queuing
Patent Drawings:

Inventor: Venables
Date Issued: April 29, 2014
Application:
Filed:
Inventors:
Assignee:
Primary Examiner: Ngo; Ricky
Assistant Examiner: Samuel; Dewanda
Attorney Or Agent: Christopher & Wiesberg, P.A.
U.S. Class: 370/412; 370/230; 370/238
Field Of Search: ;370/412; ;370/230; ;370/238
International Class: H04L 12/28
U.S Patent Documents:
Foreign Patent Documents: 0843499; 05-210523; 2007-110515; 02062013; 2006017753
Other References: Deng Pan and Yuanyuan Yang, "Credit Based Fair Scheduling for Packet Switched Networks," Infocom 2005, 24th Annual Joint Conference of theIEEE Computer and Communications Societies, Proceedings IEEE Miami, FL (Mar. 13, 2005) vol. 2, pp. 843-854, XP010829184, DOI: 10.1109/INFCOM.2005.1498315 ISBN: 978-0-7803-8968-7. cited by applicant.
Extended European Search Report and Written Opinion dated Dec. 12, 2012 for European Regional Stage Application No. 09820145.2-2416, European Regional Stage Entry Date: Mar. 31, 2011 consisting of 11-pages. cited by applicant.
1st Chinese Examination Report and Search Report in both Chinese and its English translation dated Jul. 18, 2013 for corresponding Chinese National Stage Application Serial No. 200980150306.2, Chinese National Stage Entry Date: Jun. 10, 2011consisting of 20 pages. cited by applicant.
1st Japanese Office Action in both Japanese and its English translation dated Sep. 25, 2013 for corresponding Japanese National Stage Application Serial No. 2011-530340, Japanese National Stage Entry Date: Apr. 12, 2011 consisting of 4 pages. citedby applicant.









Abstract: A system for scheduling data for transmission in a communication network includes a credit distributor and a transmit selector. The communication network includes a plurality of children. The transmit selector is communicatively coupled to the credit distributor. The credit distributor operates to grant credits to at least one of eligible children and children having a negative credit count. Each credit is redeemable for data transmission. The credit distributor further operates to affect fairness between children with ratios of granted credits, maintain a credit balance representing a total amount of undistributed credits available, and deduct the granted credits from the credit balance. The transmit selector operates to select at least one eligible and enabled child for dequeuing, bias selection of the eligible and enabled child to an eligible and enabled child with positive credits, and add credits to the credit balance corresponding to an amount of data selected for dequeuing.
Claim: What is claimed is:

1. A method of scheduling data for transmission in a communications network, the communications network having a plurality of data sources, the method comprising:classifying each data source as one of an eligible data source and an ineligible data source; maintaining a credit balance of available credits; allocating credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources; maintaining a respective credit countfor each eligible data source; maintaining a plurality of queues, each queue having a respective priority level defined according to a corresponding credit count requirement; assigning each data source to a respective queue, the respective queue havinga credit count requirement met by the credit count of the data source; selecting at least one data source for dequeuing according to the priority levels of the queues to which the data sources are assigned; transferring a number of credits from thecredit count for the at least one selected data source to the credit balance, the number of credits corresponding to an amount of data dequeued; reclassifying an eligible data source as an ineligible data source; and transferring the credit count forthe reclassified data source to the credit balance.

2. The method of claim 1, wherein reclassifying the eligible data source comprises reclassifying the eligible data source as an ineligible data source when a transmission rate of the data source reaches a rate limit assigned to the data source.

3. The method of claim 1, wherein reclassifying the eligible data source comprises reclassifying the eligible data source as an ineligible data source when the data source has no data to transmit.

4. The method of claim 1, wherein: each data source is assigned a respective weight; and allocating credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources comprises allocating credits to the data sources in proportions determined by theirassigned weights.

5. The method of claim 4, wherein allocating credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources comprises: assigning each eligible data source a number of entries in a round robin allocation scheme according to its respective weight; andallocating credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources according to the round robin allocation scheme.

6. The method of claim 5, wherein the credit balance maintains a positive balance when each eligible data source has received its allocation of credits.

7. The method of claim 4, wherein allocating credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources comprises allocating credits at a rate determined according to a current count of credits in the credit balance.

8. The method of claim 7, wherein allocating credits at a rate determined according to a current count of credits in the credit balance comprises allocating credits at a rate that maintains a substantially normal transmission rate.

9. The method of claim 1, wherein: an eligible data source can have a negative credit count; and at least one queue has a credit count requirement met by a negative credit count.

10. A data scheduler for a communications network, the communications network having a plurality of data sources, the scheduler comprising: a processor including classification logic configured to classify each data source as one of an eligibledata source and an ineligible data source; a credit balance credit counter configured to maintain a credit balance of available credits; credit allocation logic configured to allocate credits from the credit balance to eligible data sources; datasource credit counters configured to maintain a respective credit count for each eligible data source; queue maintenance logic configured to maintain a plurality of queues, each queue having a respective priority level defined according to acorresponding credit count requirement; queue assignment logic configured to assign each data source to a respective queue, the respective queue having a credit count requirement met by the credit count of the data source; data source selection logicconfigured to select at least one data source for dequeuing according to the priority levels of the queues to which the data sources are assigned; credit transfer logic configured to transfer a number of credits from the credit count for the at leastone selected data source to the credit balance, the number of credits corresponding to an amount of data dequeued; the classification logic being configured to reclassify an eligible data source as an ineligible data source; and the credit transferlogic being configured to transfer the credit count for the reclassified data source to the credit balance.

11. The data scheduler of claim 10, wherein the classification logic is configured to reclassify the eligible data source as an ineligible data source when a transmission rate of the data source reaches a rate limit assigned to the data source.

12. The data scheduler of claim 10, wherein the classification logic is configured to reclassify the eligible data source as an ineligible data source when the data source has no data to transmit.

13. The data scheduler of claim 10, wherein: each data source is assigned a respective weight; and the credit allocation logic is configured to allocate credits to the data sources in proportions determined by their assigned weights.

14. The data scheduler of claim 13, wherein the credit allocation logic is configured to: assign each eligible data source a number of entries in a round robin allocation scheme according to its respective weight; and allocate credits from thecredit balance to eligible data sources according to the round robin allocation scheme.

15. The data scheduler of claim 14, wherein the credit balance credit counter maintains a positive balance when each eligible data source has received its allocation of credits.

16. The data scheduler of claim 13, wherein the credit allocation logic is configured to allocate credits at a rate determined according to a current count of credits in the credit balance.

17. The data scheduler of claim 16, wherein the credit allocation logic is configured to allocate credits at a rate that maintains a substantially normal transmission rate.

18. The data scheduler of claim 10, wherein: an eligible data source can have a negative credit count; and at least one queue has a credit count requirement met by a negative credit count.
Description: STATEMENT REGARDING FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT

n/a

FIELD OF THE INVENTION

The present invention relates generally to a method and system for weighted fair queuing in the presence of rate-shaped traffic, and more specifically to a method and system providing weighted fair queuing for frame-based traffic which allowsintegration of rate limits and rate guarantees to children competing within the weighted fair queue scheduler.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

Every computer and communication network which transfers data packets must implement some form of scheduling to insure that data traffic progresses through the network at a particular rate. At any given moment, a network may have hundreds ofthousands or even millions of connections containing data queues waiting for transport through the network. Some form of scheduling is required to enable network elements to process these data queues in a fair and timely manner.

Typically, schedulers interact with the data queues to schedule the transmission of data through the network. Schedulers can be hierarchical in that the selected child also could be a scheduler which must choose from its children. Thescheduler determines the order of data transmission from eligible data queues or other eligible child schedulers having data available. Generally, a separate process enqueues the data to a queue, but the separate process is coupled to scheduling in theway it announces the data availability or child eligibility. Schedulers periodically, or on request, choose a child with available data from which to transmit the data. The hierarchical scheduler establishes a transmission of data from the selectedqueue.

FIG. 1 illustrates a prior art data system 10 that includes a scheduling process 12 wherein the data path includes a series of data queues 14a, 14b, 14c, 14d and 14e (collectively referenced as data queue 14) and multiplexers 16a, 16b(collectively referenced as multiplexer 16). Although shown in FIG. 1 as a physical unit, in a typical scalable implementation, the multiplexers do not physically exist, but are implied by the scheduler's choice of data queue 14 for transmission. Thescheduling process 12 may select from any of the data queues 14 having data available ("DA"); however, due to hierarchical nature of the implementation, the scheduling process 12 must request a child scheduler 18 to select from data queue 14d and dataqueue 14e. The child scheduler 18 then selects the appropriate data queue 14d, 14e. In this example, the scheduling process 12 may select data queues 14a, 14b and 14c directly.

One prior art weighted fair queuing process is disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 7,373,420, issued to Lyon (hereinafter "the '420 patent"), the entire contents of which are herein incorporated by reference. FIG. 2 illustrates the weighted fairqueuing process of the '420 patent, which includes an inverse credit management system that uses the assigned weights for each data queue to determine which queue to credit. Basically, the weighted fair queuing with inverse credit management ("WFQ-ICM")scheduler 20 includes two complimentary processes: a WFQ credit distributor 22 and a transmit selector 24. The transmit selector 24 typically operates in a round-robin fashion, wherein each child with data available and positive credit takes a turn attransmitting data.

The credit process 22 grants credits to children whose current credits are less than the amount of data available ("ADA") for that child. The amount of credits each child has accrued at any given time is tracked in a child credit state database26. The amount of credits per child never exceeds that child's ADA. If at any time, a child has less credit than its ADA, it is included in the credit distributor 22 where it competes for more credit.

The transmit selector 24 selects children with positive credit counts to transmit data. When a child transmits data, credits are decremented from its current credit amount in the child credit state database 26 and returned to the creditdistributor 22 for redistribution to other children having ADA greater than number of credits. The credit distributor 22 gives credits at the same rate as children spend credits (i.e., there is no outstanding balance), thus a key requirement of theWFQ-ICM scheduler 20 is that the system needs to know exactly how much data is available for transmission from each child at all times. This requirement prevents a child from deeming itself ineligible when it still has data available, renderingimplementation of overlaying processes to determine eligibility based on rate practically impossible. Fundamentally, rate limits can force a child with data to stop transmitting or have no data available to the parent scheduler. This limitation alsocarries a heavy burden on hierarchical schedulers where ADA includes all descendant queues, no matter how many levels of hierarchy are involved--effectively coupling scheduling processes between scheduling levels.

Therefore, what is needed is a method, system and apparatus for weighted fair queuing with inverse credit management that may be used in the presence of rate-shaped traffic.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention advantageously provides a method and system for scheduling data for transmission in a communication network based on child eligibility and credit distribution. Generally, a scheduler for weighted fair queuing with inversecredit management may be used in the presence of rate-shaped traffic, allowing for integration of rate limits and rate guarantees to children competing within the weighted fair queue scheduler.

In accordance with one aspect of the present invention, a system for scheduling data for transmission in a communication network includes a credit distributor and a transmit selector. The communication network includes a plurality of children. The transmit selector is communicatively coupled to the credit distributor. The credit distributor operates to grant credits to at least one of eligible children and children having a negative credit count. Each credit is redeemable for datatransmission. The credit distributor further operates to maintain a credit balance representing a total amount of undistributed credits available, affect fairness between children with ratios of granted credits, and deduct the granted credits from thecredit balance. The transmit selector operates to select at least one eligible and enabled child for dequeuing, bias selection of the eligible and enabled child to an eligible and enabled child with positive credits, and add credits to the creditbalance corresponding to an amount of data selected for dequeuing.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a method is provided for distributing credits to children in a communication network. Each credit is redeemable for an amount of data transmission. Credits are granted to at least oneof eligible, enabled children and children having a negative credit count. A credit balance that represents a total amount of undistributed credits available is maintained and the granted credits are deducted from the credit balance.

In accordance with yet another aspect of the present invention, a method is provided for scheduling data for transmission in a communication network. The communication network includes a plurality of children. A plurality of transmit controlqueues are established for dequeuing. Each transmit control queue is capable of containing at least one identifier of a corresponding eligible child and has a priority level defined according to a corresponding credit count requirement. Each eligiblechild is assigned to one of the plurality of transmit control queues. Each eligible child has a credit state that meets the credit count requirement for its assigned transmit control queue. At least one eligible child is selected for dequeuingaccording to the priority level of the transmit control queue corresponding to the eligible child. Credits corresponding to an amount of data dequeued are added to the credit balance. Each eligible and enabled child is represented in one of thetransmit control queues.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

A more complete understanding of the present invention, and the attendant advantages and features thereof, will be more readily understood by reference to the following detailed description when considered in conjunction with the accompanyingdrawings wherein:

FIG. 1 is a block diagram of an exemplary prior art data scheduling process;

FIG. 2 is a block diagram of an exemplary prior art weighted fair queuing data scheduling process with inverse credit management;

FIG. 3 is a block diagram of an exemplary weighted fair queuing data scheduling process with inverse credit management constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 4 is a block diagram of an exemplary credit distributor constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 5 is a flowchart of an exemplary credit distributor process according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 6 is a flow chart of an exemplary credit process in response to changes in eligibility according to the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 7 is a block diagram of an exemplary prior art one-dimensional weighted interleaved round robin scheduling process for high weight children;

FIG. 8 is a block diagram of an exemplary two-dimensional weighted interleaved round robin scheduling process for high weight children constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 9 is a block diagram of an exemplary two dimensional weighted interleaved round robin scheduling process with four priority levels constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 10 is a block diagram of an exemplary basic transmit selector constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 11 is a block diagram of an exemplary advanced transmit selector constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention;

FIG. 12 is a flow chart of an exemplary transmit selection process for weighted fair queuing children according to the principles of the present invention; and

FIG. 13 is a flow chart of an exemplary transmit selection process in response to increased credit and eligibility changes according to the principles of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Before describing in detail exemplary embodiments that are in accordance with the present invention, it is noted that the embodiments reside primarily in combinations of apparatus components and processing steps related to implementing a systemand method for providing weighted fair queuing for frame-based traffic which allows integration of rate limits and rate guarantees to children competing within the weighted fair queue scheduler. Accordingly, the system and method components have beenrepresented where appropriate by conventional symbols in the drawings, showing only those specific details that are pertinent to understanding the embodiments of the present invention so as not to obscure the disclosure with details that will be readilyapparent to those of ordinary skill in the art having the benefit of the description herein.

As used herein, relational terms, such as "first" and "second," "top" and "bottom," and the like, may be used solely to distinguish one entity or element from another entity or element without necessarily requiring or implying any physical orlogical relationship or order between such entities or elements. A "root" node refers to the highest level node in a weighted fair queuing tree, or the highest node in a branch of a hierarchical weighted fair queuing tree. A "descendant" of aparticular node is any node at a level below the node in question whose lineage may be traced back to the node in question. Similarly an "ancestor" of a particular node is any node at a level above the node in question whose lineage may be traced to thenode in question. The terms "child," "child node" or "children" refer to any direct descendants of a node in a scheduling tree. Generally, when discussing a relationship to a particular node, the term "child" refers to a node (scheduler node or queue)one level below the node in question. Additionally, any node descending from a node having a higher level may be referred to as a "child node" or "child."

One embodiment of the present invention advantageously provides a system, method and apparatus for weighted fair queuing with inverse credit management that may be used in the presence of rate-shaped traffic. The system and method allowintegration of rate limits and rate guarantees to children competing within the weighted fair queue scheduler. A credit balance mechanism enables conservation of credits when children return unused credits. Previously, unused credits were granted bythe credit distribution system without the knowledge of how long the child would remain within its rate limits and continue to have data to transmit.

Additionally, unlike prior art, embodiments of the present invention allow children to toggle in and out of eligibility, thereby allowing easy integration of children with rate limits.

Referring now to FIG. 3, an exemplary weighted fair queuing scheduler 28 with improved inverse credit management ("WFQ-ICM-Plus") constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention includes a transmit selector 30, a creditdistributor 32, and child credit state database 34. The transmit selector 30 selects a child from all eligible children for transmitting data. A separate eligibility process 36 determines whether a child is eligible for selection for transmission. Details of the operation of the eligibility process 36 are beyond the scope of the present invention; the relevant consideration is simply that the eligibility process 36 determines which children are eligible for selection. In the simplest form, theeligibility process is merely data available at the child. In a more complex form, data available may include rate limits at various levels of the hierarchy. This affects a different behavior from the prior art in that children with negative creditshave the potential to be selected for transmission by the transmit selector 30. In addition, embodiments of this invention allow for the possibility of another process instantaneously disabling a previously eligible child, which is also not possible inthe prior art.

The credit distributor 32 includes a credit balance ("CB") 38 which contains all surplus credits for the system. The credit distributor 32 is a weighted fair process that grants credits from the credit balance 38 to all eligible children and toall children that have negative credits. The credit distributor 32 tracks the amount of credits each child has accrued at any given time in a child credit state database 34.

Unlike prior WFQ-ICM schedulers, embodiments of the present invention advantageously do not require the system to know precisely how much data is available. Instead, all the credit distributor 32 has to know is that a child is "eligible." Thecredit distributor 32 may distribute credits to any eligible child. Thus, an interfering process, such as a rate shaper, may readily operate in conjunction with embodiments of the present invention. Theoretically, a child could receive many morecredits than the amount of data that child currently has available or will be eligible to send in the near term. However, as soon as a child transitions from "eligible" to "ineligible," all the credits the child has previously acquired are stripped awayand returned to the credit balance 38.

The transmit selector 30 selects eligible children to transmit data. Generally, child selection is biased toward children with larger credit counts. Thus, it is more likely that a child with a large positive credit count will be selected fortransmission than a child having a low positive, or even a negative credit count. When a child transmits data, credits are decremented from its current credit amount in the child credit state database 34 and returned to the credit balance 38 forredistribution to other eligible children and negative balance children.

Prior WFQ-ICM schedulers did not allow transmission from a child with a negative credit count other than to complete the transmission of a frame started under a positive credit count. However, because the prior art did not allow children to bedisabled or ineligible to transmit after gaining credits, it did not need this capability.

Referring now to FIG. 4, a simplified implementation of an exemplary credit distributor 32 is shown. Generally a round-robin credit distributor 40 distributes credits to eligible and negative credit children at the same rate as datatransmissions exit from the scheduler 28. In other words, transmit opportunities from the transmit selector 30 trigger credit distribution opportunities for the credit distributor 32.

During one credit distribution round, each eligible child and negative credit child is allotted a number of entries in the round corresponding to its weight value. Each child in the round gets one credit when it reaches the head of the roundrobin ("RR") distribution queue 42. In other words, one RR round grants each child one "credit." Thus, for one full credit round, each child "i" (denoted child.sub.i) is granted w.sub.i credits where "w.sub.i" is the weight value for child.sub.i. Thenumber of RR rounds needed to distribute the w.sub.i credits for each child.sub.i is w.sub.i. A credit round ends when every child.sub.i has been granted w.sub.i credits. Thus, the length of the credit round is dictated by the child with the largestw.sub.i. When the child has received its full weight for that round, it is temporarily placed in a weight exceeded queue 44 to wait, and no further credit distributions are made to that child until the next credit round.

In previous WFQ-ICM schedulers, credit distribution proceeds at exactly the same rate as transmission, so there was never an outstanding credit balance 38. The credits available for distribution are those returned from the transmit selector 30.

In contrast, embodiments of the present invention allow the credit distributor 32 to carry a positive credit balance 32 if necessary. The credit balance 32 may become very large due to previously eligible children becoming ineligible whileholding positive credits. To compensate for this potentially large credit balance, the credit distributor 32 is not required to grant the exact number of credit bytes coming in from the transmit selector 30 (represented as "N") as those being granted tochildren (represented as "M"). Thus, when the credit balance 38 contains excess credits (i.e., CB>0), the credit distributor 32 accelerates the credit distribution by simply increasing the number of credits granted for a full round robin round of theRR distribution queue 42, such that M>N. In other words, for a RR round, the credit distributor 32 distributes M bytes of credit to each child during its turn. Any excess credits may be carried over to the next RR round. On the other hand, if thecredit balance 38 drops to zero while M is elevated, the frequency of distribution ("F") may be decreased such that M*F=N, thereby allowing a continuation of granting M bytes of credit to each child until the end of the RR round. Elevating the number ofcredits granted for an entire RR round ensures fairness between children is maintained. It is worth noting a couple of exceptions in the distribution of an elevated M bytes of credit: children which would exceed their weight by being granted M bytes ofcredit are only granted the remainder of their weight and children which are not eligible to transmit but are collecting credit to return to zero credits are never granted more than the number of credits required to return to zero credits. Otherembodiments of a credit distributor, whether control queue based, vector based or some other method, are also able to accelerate distribution of credits by increasing the "normal" rate of credit distribution, similar in concept to the method describedhere.

Referring to FIG. 5, an exemplary operational flowchart is provided that describes steps performed by a credit distributor 32 in response to an opportunity to distribute credit. In FIG. 5, the credit distributor 32 is triggered by the transmitselector 30 one time for N bytes of data transmitted (step S100), but an alternate implementation could have a periodic trigger to achieve the same thing. It is important to note that in alternate embodiments of the present invention, the creditdistributor 32 may have actual knowledge of the total transmit byte count such that credits may be distributed in multiples of N bytes or fractions of N bytes. It should also be noted that the following process does not yet address eligibility changes,but eligibility considerations are taken into account further below in relation to FIG. 5.

If the credit distributor 32 is not at the beginning of the RR round (step S102), i.e., credits have already been distributed to some children in the current RR queue, the process selects child.sub.i at the head of the current RR queue todistribute credits to (step S104). In this case, the previous state of credit grant value M will be used. However, if the credit distributor 32 is ready to start a new RR round (step S102), i.e., a previous RR round has been completed, the creditdistributor 32 decides whether a credit distribution round must be continued or if an entirely new credit round is needed (step S106). If this is the beginning of a credit round then a RR queue is selected for scheduling (step S108). Up until thispoint, only a scheduling process which supports a single RR queue has been discussed, so step S108 would just reset the scheduling parameters and begin processing all of the children for the RR queue again. However, as described below in associationwith FIG. 8, an exemplary embodiment of the current invention allows for multiple RR queues distinguishing multiple priorities of children, in which case step S108 could select a different RR queue for processing. If this is not the beginning of acredit round, then a new RR queue is not required.

Returning to decision block S106, if the credit round is just beginning, the credit distributor 32 determines whether an excess credit balance exists (step S110), in this case more credits than a single transmit event can produce (N). If thereis an excess credit balance, the credit distributor 32 enters an accelerated credit distribution cycle (step S112), wherein the credit distribution amount (M) during this credit distribution event and the rest of the credit distribution events in thecurrent RR round exceeds the credits transmitted between credit distribution events (N), i.e., M>N. Otherwise, if there is no outstanding credit balance (step S114), the amount of credit to be distributed during this credit distribution event and forthe rest of the RR round is set to equal the amount of credits typically transmitted between credit distribution events, i.e., M=N (step S114). Note that other embodiments of the current invention may use different thresholds for N in decision S110,e.g. CB>x bytes where x is a static or dynamic number used to inject hysteresis into the decision to accelerate credit distribution.

Credit distribution begins by selecting child.sub.i at the head of the current RR queue (step S104). If the credit balance exceeds or equals the number of credits to be granted to each child during the current RR round (step S116), i.e.,CB>=M, child.sub.i is granted the lesser of its remaining weight in the credit round and the number of credits to be granted during the RR round (step S118), M. The amount of credits granted to child.sub.i is deducted from the credit balance (stepS120) and the RR round is advanced to the next child in the RR queue (step S122).

Returning to decision block S116, as long as the credit balance exceeds the remaining weight for child.sub.i (step S124), then child.sub.i is granted its remaining credit weight (step S126). The amount of credits granted to child.sub.i isdeducted from the credit balance (step S120) and the RR round is advanced to the next child in the RR queue (step S122). However, if the remaining weight for child.sub.i exceeds the credit balance (step S124), no credits are distributed and the currentcredit distribution event ends, with child.sub.i remaining at the head of the RR queue for the next credit distribution event.

Referring now to FIG. 6, an exemplary operational flowchart is provided that describes steps performed by a credit distributor 32 in response to changes in the eligibility status of a child. The credit distributor 32 detects a transition ineligibility status for a child.sub.i (step S128). Eligibility transitions may be announced by a separate process (inside or outside the scheduler), for example, by setting or clearing a flag for the transitioning child, sending an event, or sending amessage. If the child.sub.i has transitioned from ineligible to eligible (step S130 YES branch), and child.sub.i is already in the credit system (step S132 YES branch), the credit distributor 32 simply clears the pending removal flag for child.sub.i(step S134). As discussed below in describing step S150, this pending removal flag was set in order to request a child be removed from the credit distributor 32 when it returns to the correct state. Child.sub.i remains able to receive creditsdetermined by its weight and order in the RR queue. However, if child.sub.i is currently not in the credit system (step S132 NO branch), and it has not already received credits in excess of its weight in the credit round (step S136 NO branch),child.sub.i is enqueued to the tail of the RR queue (step S138) and will receive credits on its next turn in the present credit round. If child.sub.i has already exceeded its weight in the present credit round (step S136 YES branch), child.sub.i isenqueued to the tail of the weight exceeded queue (step S140) and will not receive credits again until the next credit round.

Returning to decision block S130, if the transitioning child is not a newly eligible child, the child is transitioning to an ineligible state. If the newly ineligible child.sub.i currently has positive credits or no credits (step S142), i.e.,credits.sub.i>=0, any excess credits are returned to the credit balance (step S144) and the credit count for child.sub.i is set to zero (step S146). The child.sub.i is then removed from the credit system (step S148). It should be noted that removalfrom the credit system is most readily achieved by waiting for the child to work its way to the head of the RR queue and removing the child during its RR turn instead of granting it credits. This method is one potential use of a removal flag. However,alternate embodiments may allow for the newly ineligible child.sub.i to be removed from the system immediately upon surrendering its credits back to the credit balance.

Returning again to decision block S142, if the newly ineligible child has negative credits, i.e., credits.sub.i<0, its removal flag is simply set to indicate it is ready for removal. However, it should be noted that any newly ineligiblechildren with a negative credit balance are not removed from the credit system until they have re-earned their deficit credit from the credit balance, i.e., child.sub.i is not removed until credits.sub.i=0.

Turning now to FIG. 7, a block diagram illustrates an exemplary prior art one dimensional weighted interleaved round robin ("WIRR") scheduling process 46 for high weight children. The WIRR scheduling process 46 makes use of two queues: a roundrobin ("RR") queue 48 and a weight exceeded queue 50. All children to receive credits in the credit round initially begin in the RR queue 48. Assuming a starting condition as shown in FIG. 7, where there are four children in the RR queue (e.g., A, B,C, and D), wherein A has a weight of 10, B has a weight of 4 and C and D each have a weight of 2. As the number of RR rounds in one credit round is dictated by the child having the highest weight, because Child A has a weight of 10, there could be asmany as ten RR rounds in one credit round.

During the first RR round, credit is given to D, the child at the head of the RR queue 48 and then D is moved to the tail of the RR queue 48. Similarly, credit is given to C, B and A, and each child is moved to the tail of the RR queue 48, suchthat D is returned to the head of the queue. During RR round 2, credit is given to D, making the total of the credits distributed to D during this credit round greater than or equal to its weight, i.e., credit.sub.D>=current RR. Thus, D is moved tothe weight exceeded queue 50 to wait until the end of this credit round. Similarly, credit is given to C which is then moved to the tail of the weight exceeded queue 50. Finally, credit is given to B and A which are each moved to the tail of RR queue48. During round 3, one credit is given to B and one credit is given to A. During round 4, one credit is also given to B and one credit is given to A, however, having received its weight in credits for the credit round, child B is moved to the tail ofthe weight exceeded queue 50, leaving only A in the RR queue 48. During the remaining RR rounds, e.g., rounds 5-10, one credit per round is granted to child A.

The effective credit distribution sequence for this one dimensional WIRR becomes: DCBA, DCBA, BA, BA, A, A, A, A, A, A.

Thus, during one segment of the credit distribution sequence, there is a burst of seven consecutive distributions to child A. This stacked sequence presents a potential stability problem to the system if child A runs out of data as child A canaccumulate credits very rapidly.

An embodiment of the present invention improves the WIRR scheduling process by introducing a new two-dimensional WIRR scheduler to facilitate smooth scheduling of credit distributions for high weight children. FIG. 8 provides a block diagram ofan exemplary two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. The two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 implements multiple RR queues instead of a single RR queue, representing bandwidth or weightcategories. The first dimension of scheduling is within a bandwidth category where WIRR credit rounds provide fairness between children in the same bandwidth category. The second dimension of scheduling is between bandwidth categories where a weightedinterleaving between RR queue to service with the first dimension scheduler achieves the bandwidth multiplier associated with the bandwidth categories.

The two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 may include at least two sets of RR queues having associated weight exceeded queues wherein each queue "i" is configured as a bandwidth category with a bandwidth multiplier "n.sub.i." The children areinterleaved within a RR queue based on an adjusted weight (more later) with a WIRR round and between RR queues by the order of servicing the queues between full WIRR rounds. In the second dimension scheduler, a RR queue, having a multiplier of n.sub.iis executed n.sub.i times as many full WIRR rounds as a by 1 (depicted .times.1) queue. For example, in the two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 of FIG. 8, there is a high priority ("HP") RR queue 54 having a multiplier of 4, an HP weight exceeded queue56, a low priority ("LP") RR queue 58 having a multiplier of 1, and an LP weight exceeded queue 60. The HP queue 54 WIRR credit round is executed 4 times for every one WIRR credit round execution of the LP queue.

A fixed pattern for executing the RR queues is acceptable as long as the pattern is work conserving, meaning useful scheduling decisions can be made even if some of the RR queues contain no eligible children. For example, for thetwo-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 having an HP queue 54 with a .times.4 multiplier and an LP queue 58 with a .times.1 multiplier, the credit distribution pattern is HP, HP, HP, HP, LP, repeat. Weights used for the WIRR credit round are scaled by thesecond dimension multiplier, wherein the adjusted weight equals full weight divided by n.sub.i.

For example, using the same weights and children as used above in the discussion relating to FIG. 7, in the two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 of FIG. 8 the children are arranged such that A and B are in the HP queue 54, and C and D are in the LPqueue 58. Child A has an adjusted weight of 2.5 so that its full weight remains 10 (e.g., adj. weight*multiplier=full weight; 2.5*4=10). Likewise, B has an adjusted weight of 1 to reflect its full weight of 4 (e.g., 1*4=4). As the multiplier for theLP queue 58 is 1, C and D retain their original weight of 2.

During the first WIRR credit round of the two dimensional WIRR, only the HP queue 54 is serviced. Thus, the credit distributor during WIRR round 1 grants B one credit, and A two credits, while retaining a remainder weight for child A of 0.5. During WIRR credit round 2, once again, only the HP queue 54 is serviced, but this time, B is granted 1 credit and A is granted 3 credits (e.g., 2.5 weight for this round+0.5 weight remainder=3 credits). The third WIRR round is a repeat of WIRR round 1,wherein B receives 1 credit and A receives 2 credits with a 0.5 remainder. The fourth WIRR round is a repeat of round 2, wherein B is granted 1 credit and A is granted 3 credits. The fifth and final WIRR round services the LP queue 58 with children Cand D each receiving 2 credits. Thus, the effective credit grant order per full credit round for the two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 is:

.times..times..times..times. ##EQU00001## It should be noted that the largest consecutive distribution burst is reduced to three A distributions, which is less than half of the largest burst of the prior art one-dimensional WIRR 46. It shouldalso be noted that this procedure may be implemented with a single weight exceeded queue because only one RR queue is used at a time.

A non-O(1) algorithm, i.e., a hierarchical scheduler having a computational complexity other than O(1) using commonly known "big-O" notation, may be satisfactory for the second dimension as scalability is not required. As shown above, stronginterleaving limits the length of burst from the highest weighted children. Although discussed above in the context of a credit distributor, it is conceivable that the two-dimensional WIRR scheduler 52 of the present invention could be used as a processfor scheduling dequeuing of transmit queues by a transmit selector 30.

The concept of the two dimensional WIRR may be extended to implement systems having more than two priority levels. FIG. 9 provides a block diagram of a WIRR scheduler 62 having four priority levels represented by four priority RR queues: a highpriority ("HP") queue 64, a medium priority ("MP") queue 66, a low priority ("LP") queue 68 and a very low priority ("VLP") queue 70. Fixed multipliers between the queues are selected to provide a large dynamic range of scheduling. For example,assuming that the highest adjusted weight value for any child in any RR queue is 8 and the minimum adjusted weight is 1, the maximum total weight for any child is 4096 (8.sup.4). Queue selection is calculated based on weight, so when all queues containchildren, every 585 scheduling events, the HP queue 64 is selected 512 times, the MP queue 66 is selected 64 times, the LP queue 68 is selected 8 times, and the VL queue 70 is selected once. The WIRR scheduler 62 is work conserving, so queues containingno children are not selected. The calculated or configured credit distribution pattern should seek to maximally distribute the scheduling opportunities of larger weight queues. Additionally, a full standard WIRR round should be performed each time thequeue is selected. The queue weights depicted in FIG. 9 are illustrative but do not represent the only strategy for weighting the RR queues. For example, a different weighting strategy might opt to uniformly step the queue weights instead of theexponential strategy shown. Another strategy could implement dynamic queue weights (multipliers) which are modified depending upon the weight of the children active in the system.

The credit distributor 32 reacts to a non-zero credit balance by increasing the rate of credit distribution, in other words, credit distribution acceleration ("CDA"), which is depicted as M>N in FIG. 5. The CDA method combines multiple RRrounds in the same credit round into a single processing pass through the RR queue. This is achieved within a credit round of any single bandwidth category, so the second dimension of scheduling is not explicitly involved. This method requiresknowledge of the beginning and end of a RR round and evaluates the magnitude of the CDA or M at the beginning of each RR round. The number of RR rounds combined in a CDA round is typically 2 (M=2). It is also perceived to be of value to increase to Mto 4 when the credit balance 38 is particularly large, potentially configured as a threshold to compare against credit balance 38.

An alternate embodiment combines the maximum number of RR rounds into a single pass by allocating the full remaining weight of each child in the current credit round, thereby ending the WIRR credit round. Yet another implementation calculatesthe number of children involved in the RR round and sets the acceleration to 1+CB/"number of children", effectively eliminating the credit balance 38 in a single pass through the current RR queue.

The CDA method allows for the credit distribution rate return to normal in the middle of an accelerated RR round by skipping opportunities to distribute credits. In other words, if M is 2 and the credit balance 38 has been returned to zero,then only distribute credits every other opportunity, e.g., M.times.N.times.0.5=N. The test for continued acceleration is simple--as long as the credit balance is greater than the minimum of M and the remaining weight.sub.i, then a child.sub.i at thehead of the RR queue can be served credits.

Credit Distribution Acceleration ("CDA") may be executed RR round by RR round at any priority level. The CDA triggers at the start of a RR round. The acceleration factor, M, chosen at the start of the RR round applies for the entire RR round. Assigning children adjusted weights of 1 or less should be avoided because only children with adjusted weights>1 can only participate in this form of acceleration. Children whose remaining weight in a credit round is less than the credits dictated bythe CDA only receive their remaining weight (i.e. opportunity to accelerate is lost or partially lost).

Attention is now directed away from the credit distributor 32 to the counterpart transmit selector 30, constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. Prior inverse credit management ("ICM") schedulers contained only onetransmit queue servicing only children with positive credits. Children were selected for transmission according to, for example, a round robin order and enqueued at the tail of the transmit queue. The child at the head of the queue was then selected totransmit.

FIG. 10 illustrates an exemplary basic transmit control structure 72 constructed in accordance with the principles of the present invention. In accordance with an embodiment of the present invention, the basic transmit control structure 72includes three separate transmit control queues: a positive queue 74, a negative queue 76 and an extreme negative queue 78. All children that are eligible to transmit, e.g., having data available and are enabled, are present in one of the transmitcontrol queues. A priority selector 80 chooses which of the three transmit control queues to transmit from based on a strict priority system. In other words, the highest priority transmit control queue that contains a child is always selected beforelower priority transmit control queues. Within each transmit control queue, children are selected in a simple round robin fashion, i.e., no weights. A transmission opportunity triggers a corresponding credit distribution opportunity.

Children are sorted into a transmit control queue based on the number of credits they possess. Children are dynamically moved between transmit control queues as their credit balances change. Children with a credit count above zero are placedin the positive queue 74. If not for the "credit dumping" aspect of the system when a child becomes ineligible, the expected behavior would be that only children from the positive credit queue 74 transmit. Because the present invention allows forcredit dumping (where the credit balance is greater than N), the sum of all credits held by all active children might be negative. Children with a negative credit count are placed in the negative queue 76.

The standard positive transmit queue 74 and negative transmit credit queue 76 contain children with normal credit counts. Children in the positive transmit queue 74 have received slightly more credits than transmits, while those in the negativetransmit queue 76 have received slightly less credits than transmits. Transmitting from the standard positive transmit queue 74 is the normal mode of operation if ineligibility is not triggering perturbations to the credit balance 38. However, many ofthe children will be held in the negative transmit queue 76 after a transmission until the child's credit count can be restored by the credit distributor 32.

It is foreseeable that the sum of the credits currently held by all active children might be negative, thus some children having a negative credit count may occasionally have to transmit, further reducing their credit count. However, childrenwith a large number of transmissions while negative may be separated out to reduce instantaneous unfairness. Thus, a threshold value, e.g., the negative of the maximum transmit unit for the transmission medium, is set for which children having anegative credit balance below such threshold are placed in the extreme negative queue 78. Transmission from the extreme negative queue 78 suggests a very large surplus credit balance 38 in the credit distributor 32 which may require special attention. The extreme negative queue 78 prevents children from spiraling down to very low credit balances unless all children are spiraling down. A transmission from the extreme negative queue 78 is an indication of an unhealthy credit balance 38 where the systemis unstable. An emergency measure which can be taken to protect credit balance 38 from additional growth is to decrease the transmit credit spend rate (e.g., spend N/4 instead of N credits for a transmission). This discontinuity in the cost oftransmitting data introduces error in the weighted fairness algorithm as some data will transmit at N cost and other data will transmit at N/4 cost, however this is a simple implementation to protect against infinite growth of the credit balance 38.

Additional embodiments employ a more advanced transmit control structure 82, as shown in FIG. 11. This advanced transmit control structure 82 combines the three transmit control queues discussed above with additional queues that may beoptionally available for more flexible scheduling variations and entirely new features. For example, the transmit control structure 82 may merge strict priority children, such as children containing packets of voice data, with the weighted fair queuingchildren through a highest priority bypass control queue 84. The advanced transmit control structure 82 and methodology discussed above allows this integration of priority scheduling and weighted fair queuing with minimal cost.

Other optional transmit control queues may include an extreme positive queue 86 and an unknown child queue 88. The extreme positive queue 86 prevents spikes in credit count due to blocking in the transmit system, thereby improving the stabilityof the credit balance. Although the extreme positive queue 86 is optional, it serves a very desirable function as high weight children without priority transmit can build credits quickly. Large credit stores are dangerous to system stability becausecredits are suddenly dumped back into the credit balance 38 if the child becomes ineligible. If any child has a large credit count, the transmit selector 30 should poll the child to determine if the child is in danger of reaching an upper creditthreshold. The upper credit threshold may be set by the system designer according to the specifications of the transmit medium, including such parameters as current traffic flow. If the child exceeds the upper credit threshold, the child should bemoved to the extreme positive queue 86 to receive priority service. The unknown child queue 88 allows for the possibility that a child is known to the parent scheduler which is not yet absorbed into (known to) the current scheduler. If the currentscheduler is selected for scheduling and has no other children eligible, then the unknown child queue 88 provides the needed child.

Referring to FIG. 12, an exemplary operational flowchart is provided that describes steps performed by a transmit selector 30 during selection of weighted fair queuing children. The transmit selector 30 determines if the child is a newselection (step S152). If not, the transmit selector 30 continues transmitting a frame from the same queue and/or child as the previous selection (step S154). If the selection is new (step S152), the transmit selector 30 chooses the highest prioritytransmit queue having children present for dequeuing (step S156) and selects child.sub.i from the head of the transmit queue for transmission (step S158). After a child has been selected for transmission, the transmit selector 30 deducts the amount ofbytes transmitted ("N") from the total available credits (credit) for that child.sub.i (step S160). When the transmit selector 30 reaches the end of the transmission (step S162), if the child.sub.i is no longer eligible (step S164), the child.sub.i isremoved from the transmit system (step S166), i.e., the child.sub.i is no longer visible to the transmit selector 30. However, if the child.sub.i remains eligible (step S164), the child.sub.i is re-enqueued to the tail of the transmit queue that isappropriate for the child's remaining number of credits.sub.i (step S168).

Referring now to FIG. 13, an exemplary operational flowchart is provided that describes steps performed by a transmit selector 30 in response to increased credits and eligibility changes. The transmit selector 30 determines if the child.sub.iis a new child (step S170), meaning it is not currently in the transmit selector queuing system. If the child.sub.i is not new, and the transmit selector 30 determines that the child.sub.i is no longer eligible (step S172), then if child.sub.i is notcurrently transmitting data (step S174), the child.sub.i is removed from the transmit system (step S176). Otherwise, if the child.sub.i is currently transmitting (step S174), the transmit selector 30 does not react now. The reaction will happen as partof the dequeue processing in FIG. 12.

Returning to decision block S172, if the child.sub.i is eligible, and the credits.sub.i indicate that the child has received enough new credits to change priority levels (step S178), as long as the child.sub.i is not currently transmitting (stepS180), then the child.sub.i is removed from the current transmit queue (step S182) and enqueued to the tail of the transmit queue indicated by the number of credits.sub.i (step S184), i.e., a higher priority transmit queue.

Additionally, referring back to decision block S170, if the child.sub.i is a new child.sub.i the transmit selector 30 simply enqueues the child.sub.i to the tail of the transmit queue indicated by the number of credits.sub.i (step S184).

The present invention can be realized in hardware, software, or a combination of hardware and software. Any kind of computing system, or other apparatus adapted for carrying out the methods described herein, is suited to perform the functionsdescribed herein.

A typical combination of hardware and software could be a specialized or general purpose computer system having one or more processing elements and a computer program stored on a storage medium that, when loaded and executed, controls thecomputer system such that it carries out the methods described herein. The present invention can also be embedded in a computer program product, which comprises all the features enabling the implementation of the methods described herein, and which,when loaded in a computing system is able to carry out these methods. Storage medium refers to any volatile or non-volatile storage device.

Computer program or application in the present context means any expression, in any language, code or notation, of a set of instructions intended to cause a system having an information processing capability to perform a particular functioneither directly or after either or both of the following a) conversion to another language, code or notation; b) reproduction in a different material form.

In addition, unless mention was made above to the contrary, it should be noted that all of the accompanying drawings are not to scale. Significantly, this invention can be embodied in other specific forms without departing from the spirit oressential attributes thereof, and accordingly, reference should be had to the following claims, rather than to the foregoing specification, as indicating the scope of the invention.

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